by Jim Benz

I. First Cycle

A bearded tongue.

II. Second Cycle

Accept it as it is.
A centered emptiness.

III. Third Cycle

A child was born.
A circular space.
A couple of nice outfits.

IV. Fourth Cycle

A defiled expression.
A disembodied head.
Aesthetic qualities.
A false terminology.
A few days later.

V. Fifth Cycle

A fierce warrior goddess.
After a minute passed.
After she fed the multitudes.
A gigantic metaphor.
A layer of wounds.
All our names were related.
Also occurring.
A lyricist and a composer.

VI. Sixth Cycle

A magnifying glass.
A minor aspect of her oeuvre.
A more complicated sense of being.
A mother who weeps.
An abandoned river bed.
An altered state.
An equal regard for connotation.
A new curling iron.
An extraordinary world.
A natural conclusion.
A new sign.
An image of the symbol.
An ink splotch.

VII. Seventh Cycle

An invariable pretense.
A normal conversation.
An ornamental fragment of a line.
Another shadow of language.
Any way that we can do it.
A paradigm of regeneration.
A pleased expression.
A puddle of tears.
A raging flood.
A reinvention.
A rule pronounced.
A second glance.
A series of statements.
A set of press-on nails.
A severe glare.
A side table.
A silhouette of two trees.
A small figure.
As previously determined.
A sweet-faced kid.
At first glance.

VIII. Eighth Cycle

A tongue lashing.
A vast field.
A vital link.
A younger sibling.
Baggage of the possibility.
Before the apocalypse.
Beneath a stone house.
Between the North Sea and the Alps.
Between us.
Beyond the perpendicular apex.
Blame it on his mother.
Borders that still exist.
Bright lights.
Broken beneath his feet.
Broken into sand.
But she loved him.
Carved wooden sandals.
Ceding the dilemma.
Characters in a play.
Clothes piled on the floor.
Clutching the window sill.
Coming to grips.
Compared to her dissociation.
Confronted directly.
Connecting to the stronghold.
Consistently insightful.
Contents of an hallucination.
Cutting into her hide.
Dead by means of silence.
Destructive power.
Deviations of the known.
Discovered in the role of a “center”.
Disjointed phrases.
Distress and disintegration.

IX. Ninth Cycle

Divided into three sections.
Do we like it.
Do you have a name.
Dreams and fantasies.
Dry arid land.
Ego blows.
End of the word.
Established as an intermediary.
Every day.
Everyone looks happy.
Evidence of the tongue clamp.
Exposed by a circular image.
Extremely pleasing.
Flashing your tiny nothings.
For a couple of minutes.
For an understandable relapse.
Form does not conform.
For the purpose of avoiding.
Four more mouths to feed.
Four years later he returned.
From his confusion.
From the essential function.
From time to time.
From where he was standing.
Full of loathing.
Gravestones raising questions.
Ground into mulch.
Haunted by multiple losses.
He asked.
He came back smiling.
He didn’t stay.
Held in place with nails.
He'll be staring blindly.
Her father demanded something else.
Her mother would have wept.
He supported the family elsewhere.
He wasn’t one of them.
He wiped his nose.
His arms outstretched.
His major contribution.
His predominance.
His teeth gleaming.
His white knuckles.
Hit in the head by lightening.
How it all began.
How nervous she feels.
How they were beaten and starved.
Huddled in a constricted space.
Human faces filled with emotion.
Human stones.
I bet you were happy.
If you ask other people.
I have no idea how long.
I let him hold the gun.
Implosion of form.
In a big tent.
In a fictional account.
In order to serve.
In silence.
Intense layers.
In the altered space.
In the doorway.
In the form of an apocalypse.
In the manner of a fractal.
In the newspaper.
In the rice fields.
In these moments.
In the very center of the circle.
In which it appears.
I stepped in it.
It called out.
It looked like trouble.
It makes a nice ornament.
It seems to hang very well.
It senses everything.
It serves as my work space.
Its impetus is to act.
It's not itself.
It turned to blood.
It was an old joke.
It was a statement.
It was groaning.
It was growing weary.
I wasn't there.
I won't discuss the conflagration.
Just this once.

X. Tenth Cycle

Just this once.
Keeping up the charade.
Kind of like a repetition.
Languages with the same last name.
Largely unpopulated.
Left to die.
Like a bird.
Listening to voices.
Look at the screen.
Man woman.
Menaced by psychosis.
Modeling her dream on a question.
My eyes, my eyes.
My feet crossed at the ankles.
My voice steady.
Networked and programmable.
No material.
No reference except for myself.
Not associated.
Nothing like my counterpart.
Novelty of exposition.
Objects transformed.
Obscured by rain.
Odd phrases.
On a beach
Opportunities for growth.
Our clothes.
Our faces.
Our guns.
Our house is full of flies.
Our intention was not to please.
Our record of inscription.
Our shoulders were touching.
Out in the kitchen.
Outside the moment.
Over there.
Owners of the language.
Pale and deranged.
People inside our circle.
Perfect for something.
Poised as if dying.
Predominance of a specific value.
Process of searching.
Projective power.
Put it on the kitchen table.
Raised in small villages.
Read sequentially in the proper tense.
Replaces the outside world.
Scattered at our feet.
Senseless questions.
She fell instantly in love.
She felt no lightness of being.
She is ready.
She replied quietly.
She said it is going to swallow him.
She still hasn't answered his question.
She wakes up extra early.
Shrinking and delinquent.
Sitting quietly on the floor.
Six months from the outside world.
Someone who frightens her.
Someone who is entirely different.
Sometimes in belief.
Sorting out all the tangents.
Space has become confused.
Stereotyped and inadequate.
Stiff from time .
Still fragrant and green.
Such as it is.
Such promise.
Supranational spaces.
Surrounded by a concrete fence.
Sweet grapes filled with healing.
Symbols of apotheosis.
Taller and also stronger.
Tapping at the windows.
Thank you very much.
That's how it goes.
The actual calling.
The beginning of the end.
The commotion over there.
The contract and the white spaces.
The dangling streets.
The door of their apartment.
The experience.
The first bombs.
The first cycle.
The first three paragraphs.
The fraying edge.
The function of a crippled dog.
The illusionist.
The invasion of comprehension.
The meaninglessness.
The mighty waves.
Then softly repeating.
The object of her love
The outside and the individual.
The poverty of frequency.
The power to preserve.
There are more than three distances.
The referential function.
There is nothing more to say.
The retractable lens.
There was nothing special about it.
The same expression.
The same people twice.
The temporal pause.
The tongue of nations.
The very desk.
The voice on the radio.
The whole damn surface.
The woman.
They are at a party.
They eloped.
They were living in Berlin.
They wondered.
Think of a time.
This is worth knowing.
This time is different from the other time.
This will not seem so negative.
This would imply he hasn't understood.
Those who are hurting.
To codify.
To consume.
To damage property.
To destroy.
To feed the crowd.
To feel more involved.
Together at each lull.
Tongue of the belt.
Tooth wounds.
To show you how it feels.
To superimpose ourselves.
To the detriment of being.
To the expressed object.
To the left and right of vacancy.
To the observation.
To which everything is related.
To whip the child repeatedly.
Treated as an object.
Two lanes and a cell phone.


Three streams of thought: typography and reflection. Unceasingly developed. Understanding the individual movements. Undetectable moments. Very seriously. Visions of the center. Watching them die. We can't understand anything. We deserved it. Weekdays and Sundays. We have been at it for aeons. We laughed repeatedly at every opportunity. We should be thankful. We spoke in his absence. We were shooting photos. What are you doing today. What did he say about the production. Whatever he meant by that I don’t know. What is behind the camera. What she called the calamity. What surprised you most. What they meant. When he pronounced his purpose. When he spoke coherently. When I drove to the shore. When time disambiguated. When we were still a bar code. When we tested for depth. When we were just being born. When you squinted. Which lasted for about an hour. Widespread approximations. With a cork screw. With frayed cuffs. Within its own realm. With jealous pleasure. Without confusing. Without fruit. Without knowing. With the genuine article .With the other stragglers. Woman man. Word as an object. Words relating to time. Yellow jogging shorts. Yet again. You opened up by chance. Your mouth is an eye. Your tongue is spatial. You don’t have time.


Posted on 03/19/2011
Copyright © 2024 Jim Benz

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Charlie Morgan on 03/19/11 at 11:05 PM

...yes! seriously, it is eXactly; i am a parts-per-biilion cat and i mean all the way to the most minute affect that [does] cause every effect. touche!, did you have to nap afterwardszzzzzzz, jim further i've a notion that everything's a cousin. staggeringly perceptive write.

Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 03/19/11 at 11:41 PM

A mind's feast, an opportunity to focus, an opportunity to blur. very cool

Posted by Paul Lastovica on 03/20/11 at 02:09 AM

I'll have to return to this when I can read it on a pc - as its much too much of a poem to properly absorb via a tiny cell phone screen - as per usual, I'm struck by the way you compose a storm of images in my mind.

Posted by Elizabeth Jill on 03/27/11 at 12:42 AM

Later, that same day, life comes crowding in. All the definitions and the sub-definitions, what is the mind, that we can even think?

I cannot fathom things anymore. Curly once said (in the movie The Cowboy Way) that everything can be found/summed up into One Thing. The cowboys wanted to know what that One Thing is, never quite understanding that he meant just that. One Thing.
If I read this aloud at Gemini Ink they'll likely put me in a straight-jacket ;) Thank you, I need one.

Posted by V. Blake on 11/07/12 at 12:53 AM

Thanks for making it easy on me, Jim. This took me a long time to get through, and not just for the length. The mind abhors a vacuum and mine railed against treating this as a dissection of language--which, for whatever else it might be, this certainly is. Remember those connect-the-dots puzzles? The good ones where you didn't actually know what the picture was until you connected all the dots?

I felt like you gave me the bones of a poem and I had to create the rest myself. I did this with varying levels of success. Many parts of this seemed connected, like it was telling a single story, but as I read and reread, it seemed more like a fractal, with the language itself being the only thing tying it all together. This led to the poem becoming at times frustratingly vague and indecipherable, occasionally even off-putting for its opaqueness.

That being said, I am reminded of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian in that I wanted to put that thing down countless times as I actually read through it, but as soon as I finished, I could not shake the feeling that I had just gotten through something incredibly, incredibly special. For all I liked and disliked, I can honestly say I've never read anything remotely like this, and I don't expect I ever will.

Posted by Laura Doom on 09/21/14 at 11:37 AM

Why must infinite sequences come to an end? Perhaps to make way for the diversion of a Gilbreath Shuffle? I have to say, this is somewhat spatial...

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